Meeting My Maker

Meeting My Maker; what will God say to me when we meet face-to-face? What are the four things God is going to examine when deciding my fate?

Meeting One’s Maker

Meeting one’s maker. 

Can there be a heavier topic? 

Irrespective of your spiritual orientation, this is a concept most of us never allow ourselves to fully explore. 

Why? Because… 

…we simply don’t like thinking about the reality of our own mortality, or…

…we don’t believe in such silly, inane nonsense, or…

…we’re terrified of what we may be forced to confront if we open that particular can of worms, and allow ourselves to contemplate all that may entail.

I fall into that last camp: I’m terrified at what I may discover if I wade too deeply into those waters.

This is Terrifying

Which is why I’m so loathe to write this. 

Because this post is about exactly that: what I think is going to happen when I meet my Maker – the God of the Christian Bible – face-to-face. 

More specifically, this is about what I think God is going to say to me when we meet.

As such, writing this post will force me to…

…look deep into the abyss that is my psyche.

…plumb the depths of my spiritual self. 

…be as objective and as brutally honest with myself as I can possibly be.

…confront and acknowledge a number of things I’ve done a good job – a really good job, if I’m honest – of suppressing, dodging and ignoring for a very long time. 

About Me

Before we get too deep into this, let’s quickly review me and my issues. I’ve talked about (some of) my personal shortcomings publicly before. As I wrote here:

If you had any idea just how flawed I am as a human being, it would probably shock you.

If you knew me – really knew me, like a handful of people do – you would not believe that I would have the audacity to write the things I write.

This post you’re reading right now is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

Why do I say that?

Because I am so outrageously imperfect.

And…

I’m so flawed.

I’m so full of sinful thoughts and actions.

My personal nature is so far from where I know it needs to be it’s insane.

The way I act, the way I behave, the way I think – all of it – is not good.

Even from a basic human perspective, I believe I’m way below average in terms of being a good, decent, thoughtful and caring person.

Most people who know me well would agree.

Ask the people who know me intimately to provide a list of the “best people” they know, and I can assure you my name will appear nowhere on any of those lists.

I’m not proud of this being my truth and my reality.

I’m just being brutally honest.

God’s Filters

That said – and the (I hope) semi-good news for me – what I believe God is going to say to me on that fateful day is not based on whether I was an inherently “good” person, or an inherently “bad” person. 

As explained here, it’s a common misperception that good people go to heaven, while bad people don’t.

And, as supported by these verses, it’s not based on the number of positive things (“works”) I did during my lifetime. 

Instead, God’s view of me will almost certainly be predicated on the following things:

⓵ Whether I did, or did not, accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.

Whether I did, or did not, follow the Ten Commandments.

Whether I did, or did not, satisfy the Great Commission. 

The extent of my faith in God. 

I could explain why I say God’s opinion of me will likely be based on these particular things in great detail (and I will explain more about each below), but that would triple the size of this post, easily. 

Instead, I would ask you to do your own research to confirm the veracity of what I’m saying. 

FWIW, I’ve been reading the Bible consistently for over 40 years, and I believe the list of factors I’m suggesting God will use to judge me is correct, based on what the Bible actually says. 

That said, please don’t take my word for any of this. 

Please do your own research, and draw your own conclusions. 

Nothing But the Truth

Before I continue, it’s important to note that God only deals in unadulterated, unvarnished, politically incorrect and objective truth. 

Not YOUR truth.

Not MY truth. 

HIS – and only His – truth. 

Read the Bible, and you’ll quickly realize that God sugarcoats nothing. 

It’s not that He doesn’t care about our feelings (although the Bible, to my knowledge, is completely silent with respect to “feelings”). 

It’s just that He only knows how to deal in truth. 

For Him, hard truth is the ONLY option. 

Not only that, but this concept of “truth” is so key and so fundamental to the Christian philosophy that God – in the form of Jesus, and also in the form of the Holy Spirit – literally refers to Himself as “truth.” As per John 14:6:

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

And at 1 John 5:6:

“This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. … And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.”

God Knows Everything

Also, as the Bible makes clear in a variety of places, God knows EVERYTHING about us. 

He knows everything about me.

And He knows everything about you. 

How much does He know about us? 

As per Matthew 10:29: 

“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

*gulp*

That’s the level of intimacy God has with respect to knowing absolutely everything there is to know about each and every one of us.

What we think…

What we do…

What we value…

What we desire…

Everything.

He knows it all. 

OK…And?

Why does any of this matter?

Because, when it’s all said and done, I will be judged based on the truth and the reality of my life, as per Romans 2:2:

“Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.”

Ultimately, knowing that God only deals in cold, hard truth, and being fully aware that He knows everything about us, are the things that compel me to write this post.

Because I would be foolish not to think about these things before it’s too late. 

Why?

Because I’ll have to give an account of my life on the day I meet my Maker. As per Romans 14:10-12:

“For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”

So, to not think about how that’s probably going to go down now – while there’s still time to do something about it – would be, IMHO, unwise. 

What He’ll Likely Say

With all that as context, here is what God is very likely going to say to me on the day we come face-to-face…

Michael,

I know you knew this day was coming, and I know you know what comes next, so let’s just jump into it, shall we? 

My checklist only has four items on it, so this won’t take too long. And, as you could see from the billions of people in the waiting room, I have a lot of work to do, so let’s make it snappy. 

Accepting JC

As my Word says at John 14:6:

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

And at Acts 4:12:

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

And at John 3:36:

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”

And at John 3:18:

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

And at John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

First item, based on those scriptures: did you, or did you not, accept my Son, Jesus Christ, as your personal Lord and Savior?

Per my records, on August 10, 1980, at a prayer meeting in your childhood home conducted by an old high school friend named Ed Talbot, you did exactly that. 

That was easy. 

*checks box on checklist*

Observing the 10 Commandments

Let’s move on to item two: the degree to which you followed my 10 commandments. 

Rather than go through each item one-by-one, let’s focus on the big ones. 

As per my Word at Matthew 22:37-40:

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

With respect to the first part – loving me – you did a so-so job. 

At times, you did love me, and – sometimes – you loved me very, very much. 

You prayed some seriously fervent prayers. 

You kept a prayer journal consistently for the last 40 years of your life that filled literally thousand of pages with literally millions of words. 

And I know you believed in me and had great faith (more on that in a sec).

But, ultimately, one of the primary ways love is expressed is in the form of obedience.

And you were not the most obedient of my followers – not even close. 

Allow me to be more specific with respect to your disobedience: 

Repeated Folly

First, as my Word says at Proverbs 26:11: 

“As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”

That was you, in a nutshell. 

You wasted so much of your life in pursuit of the wrong things. 

And not only that, but you often pursued the wrong things over and over, time after time, even after you fully understand that you were pursuing the wrong things. 

You were a lover of pleasure, and that was one of your major weaknesses. 

Some of that may not have been entirely your fault, based on your exposure to certain things in your youth, and – to your credit – you were certainly honest with yourself and others about your shortcomings – but you were still ultimately responsible for discerning right from wrong. 

And, in that regard, you most certainly came up short. 

So many times, you broke my heart in this area.

So many times, I thought, “If only he had the same passion for me that he has for ‘X’,” when ‘X’ was something that was so clearly not consistent with my Word. 

Sometimes, ‘X’ was in direct conflict with my Word.  

In this regard, you were disobedient as often – if not more often – than you were obedient. 

A Seed Among the Thorns

Second, as per my Word at Matthew 13:18-23:

“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

You were the seed that fell among the thorns. 

While you had the potential to produce a crop yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown – because you did hear my Word, and you did understand it – the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth, in addition to other factors that were unique to you, choked that potential, such that what you produced in reality was a tiny fraction of what it could have – and should have – been. 

You had so much potential. 

And you didn’t come close to realizing that potential, because of your disobedience. 

Resources Not Multiplied

Third, as per my Word at Matthew 25:28-30:

“So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

Summarizing that parable, all are responsible for stewarding the grace and resources they have received. The resources you were given were intended not to be hoarded for personal consumption, but rather to be multiplied. 

Much like with the parable of the sower in the prior point, you were given so much, and yet you accomplished so little. 

It’s not that you accomplished nothing. 

You did some good things, which we’ll get to in a minute. 

Your issue is that you accomplished so little in comparison to what you could have done, based on your potential and the talents with which you were so richly blessed. 

You could have accomplished something truly amazing on my behalf and for my kingdom.

You could have influenced and impacted so many more people than you did. 

As already noted, when I think of you, I think, “Unfulfilled potential.” 

Here, again, your disobedience was sorely evident. 

Served Two Masters

Fourth, you tried – and failed – to serve two masters. As per Matthew 6:24:

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.“

And as per Revelation 3:15-16:

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

You were so inconsistent in terms of how you lived, which you admitted publicly. 

Sometimes, you lived very much in accordance with your beliefs. 

Other times, you were the worst of sinners. 

One of your major issues was attempting to fill the hole in your soul – which can only be filled by me, which you knew most of your life – with other things. 

The money and time you wasted on “stuff” was absolutely ridiculous. 

Or on other, less savory things that I won’t embarrass you by mentioning here. 

Once more, your attempt to serve two masters is additional evidence of your disobedience. 

A Clanging Cymbal

With specific respect to the second part of the greatest of my commandments – “Love your neighbor as yourself” – allow me to add a little context. As my Word says at 1 Corinthians 13:1-3:

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

And at 1 Corinthians 13:13:

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

This is where you – by far – failed the most.

You were absolutely terrible when it came to loving your neighbor.

I could give you hundreds of examples, but I don’t need to; you know this is true.

The only mitigating factor worth noting is that, because you were so independent, you never needed support, or affirmation, or anything of that nature, from other people. 

You thought those who did need such things were soft or weak. 

You often thought and told others that the only support you needed was from God, and I cannot fault you entirely for that. 

Nonetheless, for the most part, you were callous, insensitive and uncaring about others. 

I gave you the gift of connection – you were able to develop deep, intimate relationships with people fairly quickly and easily – and yet you almost never reached out to even your closest and most valued friends, and you often let quality relationships die like so many houseplants that you never watered.

In the latter stages of your life, sadly, you stopped even trying to connect with others, because – as you said to yourself on a number of occasions – “Why bother? I’m just saving myself the time, and the other person the negative experience of trying to be my friend, by not allowing this connection to develop any further.”

What makes your behavior here particularly vexing is that – when you did spend time with others – you almost always enjoyed it.

But you simply never emphasized that.

Your lack of love of and for your fellow man was your largest shortcoming, and your biggest failure. 

And your lack of love for others absolutely reduced your effectiveness in terms of the things that you did do well, because you almost never exhibited the kind of love that is the bedrock foundation of a true follower of me.

While the general trend of your obedience was kind of/sort of positive, and you did continue to grow and mature until the very end of your life, the overall arc of your observing of my 10 Commandments was nowhere near as positive as it could have been.

Let’s hold off on figuring out whether to check this box or not until we’ve considered the remainder of your record, shall we? 

Because you did do a number of things well in terms of obedience, which we’ll get to in the remainder of our list. 

Next up: making followers of men.

Satisfying the Great Commission

Third, you did a good job of fulfilling my Great Commission, as articulated at Matthew 28:19-20:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

You wrote a number of things publicly about your experiences with me that included a good amount of content of an instructional/educational nature. And what you wrote was always 100% consistent with my Word. 

You also talked about the same kinds of things on a number of occasions on the podcast you had with your nephew, Brendon Lemon. 

Further, you were always quick to bring up your belief in me, and the specific reasons for such belief, in casual conversations with others. You actively encouraged people to do their own research about me, and you were quite aggressive in doing so.

You did this many times, and you did that frequently with people who you knew would likely not be very receptive to what you ended up telling them. 

I loved that aspect of your personality: the fearlessness with which you shared your views about me. 

Letting Your Light Shine

Related and continuing that last thought, as my Word says at Matthew 5:15-16:

“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

You did a good job of following my instruction with respect to “letting your light shine” in terms of consistently and proudly talking about your belief and faith in me. 

You most definitely put your beliefs and your faith on a lighted stand for all to see. 

That took courage, especially given the historical context in which you wrote those things.

In the era in which you did that, it was politically incorrect to do so. 

People were not lovers of God.

They were lovers of self, and of money, and of other false idols. 

Depravity and sin ruled the day. 

Morality was scoffed and laughed at. 

Not only that, but many people who claimed to be my followers refused to publicly proclaim their faith in me.

They went underground, or just kept their mouths shut, for fear of repercussion, or of being “canceled.” 

But not you. 

You said what you believed to anyone at any time, without fear of rejection or repercussion. 

You never cared about or were influenced by the “herd mentality.”

For publicly proclaiming your unwavering belief in me during such times, and throughout the totality of your life, I give you credit.

Acknowledging Me Before Others

Also related, as my Word says at Matthew 10:32: 

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”

By virtue of the prior two points, you most certainly acknowledged me before others.

All that said, your efforts with respect to fulfilling the Great Commission were impressive. 

I commend you for those efforts. 

*checks box on checklist*

Next up: the measure of your faith. 

Evidencing Faith

Fourth and finally, there is the faith issue. As my Word says at Galatians 2:15-16: 

“…a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”

Over the course of your life, you consistently evidenced faith – massive faith, actually – in me many times.

You studied my Word diligently throughout your life, but your study of the scriptures specific to faith was particularly impressive. These were some of your favorites:

Matthew 9:29: “Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you.””

Matthew 21:22: “Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

James 1:2-4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Hebrews 11:1: ”Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

As a good example of your faith in action, there was your email to Brad Powell, the pastor of Northridge Church, in 2008. That email was entirely about having faith when you had no reason to have faith. You were on the verge of losing everything you had spent a decade building, and you refused to give up hope that I would somehow, some way, intercede and save you (which I did, as you explained here). 

That email moved Brad so much that he shared the keys parts of your email in a letter to the entire congregation of over 25,000 people, specifically to encourage them to have faith as well. 

Because of the size and consistency of your faith, I interceded on your behalf many times.

You wrote about some of those things publicly in a number of places, including here and here.

Finally with respect to faith, as my Word says at Hebrews 11:6:

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

You most certainly pleased me with the level of your faith. 

This is the one area in which you were truly exceptional. 

*checks box on checklist*

The End of the Story

That’s the bulk of what I believe I’m going to hear when I come face-to-face with my Maker. 

How does the story end?

When it came to observing the 10 commandments, does God check that box, or not? 

Do I get the elevator up or the elevator down?

I don’t know. 

I’m not God. 

I’m just a lowly human being, flawed, frail and a sinner from birth. 

The times of my life, as well as my ultimate destiny, are entirely in His hands. 

My Greatest Fear

My greatest fear within this context is articulated at Matthew 7:21-23:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

Will that fear be realized?

Will God tell me He “never knew me”?

Only time will tell. 

But I know with absolute certainty that God is just, righteous and fair.

I have no fear of being cheated, misjudged or treated unfairly.

I will receive EXACTLY what I deserve, and I can live with that. 

The Good News

The really good news for me is that my life is not yet over. 

The final chapters of my life have not yet been written…

…I still have time to change for the better.

…I still have time to learn to love my fellow man. 

…I still have time to become a better person.

…I still have time to become a better Christian. 

…I still have time to accomplish the things for which I believe I was created.

Hopefully, I’ll use my remaining time wisely.

Hopefully, my future actions will only serve to make what I actually hear from God better than what I’ve speculated I’m going to hear as I’ve articulated above. 

Only time will tell…

Why?

You’re probably wondering why I took the time to write this post, let alone to share it publicly. 

I did so for the following reasons:

…to once again publicly proclaim my belief in the God of the Christian Bible.

…to once again publicly proclaim my faith in the God of the Christian Bible.

…to once again acknowledge that I am a sinner. 

…as already noted, to provide myself additional motivation to do better. 

What About You?

Finally, I wrote this post to encourage you to think about what it’s going to be like when you meet your Maker. 

Yes, that is a scary proposition.

No doubt about it. 

You’ll likely never perform a more harrowing exercise.

Or one that’s more important.

Now that I’ve completed the process, I’m very glad I did.

As I’ve discovered so many different times in so many different contexts, things almost never turn out exactly the way we think they’re going to turn out. 

I learned some things about myself that I had never considered before.

Some of those things were good, and some were not. 

Do I still have work to do?

Absolutely.

Am I happy with where I am?

Not really, but I have made progress over the years, and writing this helped me to recognize that. 

All in all, what I learned from performing this exercise was positive/better/more optimistic than I expected. 

Maybe it will be that way for you, to. 

I hope so…

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